Is Buzzed Driving Drunk Driving? Why You Shouldn’t Drive After a Drink at a Barbecue

By Stewart Law Offices
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man and woman smiling on lounge chairs while holding beers

You know not to drink and drive. But, you might wonder if it’s okay to drive after just one or two drinks, such as after a barbecue with friends. There are some situations where “buzzed driving” may be the same as drunk driving. In any event, it should be avoided.

What Is the Legal BAC Limit in North Carolina and South Carolina?

Most people realize that driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent or higher can mean that they can be charged with drunk driving. However, both North Carolina and South Carolina recognize that impairment can happen at lower levels.

In North Carolina, it is “illegal to drive a vehicle while noticeably impaired,” according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

In South Carolina, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol to the extent your faculties to drive are “materially and appreciably impaired,” according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Therefore, the “legal” alcohol limit may be less than 0.08 percent if alcohol is affecting your ability to drive safely.

So, you might be wondering, how many drinks can I have before driving? Or, can you drive after one drink or after just one or two drinks?

The safest thing to do is to avoid driving after you have drunk any alcohol at all. Also, watch for any of the following signs that may imply some level of impairment from alcohol:

  • Changes in your judgment
  • Your vision is blurred
  • You are not as alert
  • Your response time is slowed

How Long Does It Take One Drink to Leave Your System?

Unfortunately, there is not a clear-cut answer to this question. Several factors affect how much alcohol it takes to become impaired or how long a drink remains in your system. These factors include:

  • The type of alcohol you are drinking
  • The number of ounces you have consumed
  • How quickly you drink the alcohol
  • Your weight
  • How much food is in your stomach
  • Your sex
  • Medical conditions

Some general rules regarding the amount of time it takes for alcohol to leave your system include:

  • It generally takes over one hour to cancel the effects of one drink.
  • A woman who weighs about 120 pounds will reach the legal limit after only two drinks
  • It will generally take four drinks for a 180-pound man to reach a BAC of 0.08 percent

How Minimal Drinking Can Lead to Accidents

Studies have shown that drivers with a BAC as low as 0.02 percent may suffer from the following negative effects that make them more likely to cause an accident:

  • Worsened vision
  • Difficulty tracking a moving object
  • Difficult performing two tasks at the same time

When behind a metal machine weighing an average of 4,000 pounds, the slightest mistake can lead to a serious or even fatal collision. Any amount of drinking can lead to slight impairment that can have a devastating effect on others.

How Stewart Law Offices Can Help

If you were injured by a drunk driver, the South Carolina drunk driving accident lawyers at Stewart Law Offices can help pursue fair compensation for the injuries you have suffered. Contact us for a free case review to discuss your options.

Getting in any kind of accident can change your life. We understand the stress, the medical bills, the time missed from work, and the pain and suffering that comes with serious injuries. That is why our dedicated personal injury lawyers in the Carolinas are here to help you move forward.